KARACHI - Sindh Education Minister Senator Saeed Ghani on Thursday said that eight staff members in two colleges of District Matiari had been tested positive for COVID-19 in just two days after reopening educational institutions across the country. In a post on social-networking website Twitter, the minister said that both the colleges had been closed. Sindh remains the worst-hit province by the pandemic in terms of cases followed by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad. Till now 132,818 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Sindh, 98,041 in Punjab, 37,185 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 16,005 in Islamabad, 13,798 in Balochistan, 2,451 in Azad Kashmir and 3,336 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

IBA Karachi suspends 

academic activities

Meanwhile, the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi suspended academic activities at both its campuses for two days, it emerged on Thursday.

Speaking to media IBA Head of Marketing and Communications Haris Tohid refuted media reports claiming the varsity had shut down campuses after two students had tested positive for the virus. “Campuses have not been shut down, only academic activity has been suspended.”

When asked about the number of Covid-19 cases reported at the varsity, the official declined to comment. “Right now, we only suspect a certain number of cases. Giving any type of number at this point would be irresponsible.

“If the actual number is higher than the number we give, we will be misleading the public. But if the actual number is lower, then we will be creating panic.”

He added that the varsity had been conducting Covid-19 tests in collaboration with the District Health Office since September 14. He said that the administration was currently in the process of deciding the way forward, which would include increasing testing facilities and strengthening SOPs to curb the spread of the virus to ensure to well-being of students and staff. “A press release in this regard will be issued shortly,” he added.

Three colleges were closed down in Hyderabad division on Thursday after several Covid-19 cases were reported among teaching and non-teaching staff.

Eight positive cases were confirmed at two colleges in Matiari district among teaching and non-teaching staff, according to district health officer Dr Yar Mohammad. The cases were reported at the Government Girls’ Degree College Matiari and the Government College Maula Saeedabad.

“Both colleges have been closed down by the district administration,” Matiari Deputy Commissioner Ghulam Hyder Chandio said. He stated that the colleges would be disinfected, adding that the infected employees had been advised to isolate at home. Meanwhile, Jamshoro Deputy Commissioner Farid Mustafa directed on Thursday to seal Government Degree Boys’ College Bhan Saeedabad after 18 virus cases were reported among college staff.

He added that six more cases were reported among staff working at Army Public School Sehwan and five more cases among staff working at Government Girls’ High School Sehwan.

He said that the Government Degree Boys’ College Bhan Saeedabad had been sealed immediately while the remaining two schools were being disinfected by health workers. He said that Covid-19 tests were being carried out on students in Kotri’s schools and colleges, adding that the results were awaited.

Earlier, seven teachers of a government school in Peshawar were tested positive for coronavirus, the Elementary and Secondary Education Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa confirmed.

It was learnt that the teachers belonged to Government Higher Secondary School Number 1, Cantt but none of them interacted with any student. Their COVID-19 tests were conducted last week.

On the other hand, Pakistan has reported six deaths in last 24 hours by novel coronavirus as the number of positive cases has surged to 303,634. The nationwide tally of fatalities has jumped to 6,399. According to the latest figures by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) 545 persons have been tested positive for COVID-19 in 24 hours. 

Schools reopen in Pakistan

Educational institutions in the country reopened on Monday after a six month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. During the first phase, grades nine and ten, and colleges and universities are welcoming students. Secondary and primary classes will resume later this month.

A day before educational institutions reopened, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that it was “our priority and collective responsibility to ensure that every child can go to school safely to learn”.

“We have worked to ensure that school operations are aligned with public health safety rules on Covid-19,” he said in a tweet. According to instructions issued by the NCOC, parents have been advised to ensure their children follow SOPs, which includes wearing face masks.

“Don’t send them to school with symptoms of cough and fever. Get them tested in case they exhibit severe Covid-19 symptoms and inform the educational institution if report comes back positive.

“Ensure social distancing among children and suggest them to use hand sanitisers. Moreover, transporters should also maintain social distancing in vehicles when taking them to schools,” the NCOC advised.